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Traveler charged with marijuana possession gets probation, no jail time

Just say no to marijuana symbol

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 53-year-old man accused of bringing inside his luggage a small quantity of marijuana has been placed on probation for 5 years, without any detention period.

Vine Utumapu was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a class D felony; and attempt to import a controlled substance into the territory, a class A misdemeanor.

Under a plea agreement with the government this week, Utumapu pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana. The remaining charge was dismissed.

Utumapu admits that earlier this year on Jan. 23rd, he had a glass pipe containing a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage when he arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport.

Utumapu, released on a $2,500 cash bond, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.

Utumapu apologized for his actions and begged for another chance to return home to care for his family. McNeill asked the court for a probated sentence without any period of detention. He said Utumapu is a first time offender who is truly remorseful, and he is a hard working man who supports his family. McNeill said Utumapu’s run-in with the law has taught him a good lesson.

The court accepted the recommendation.

Utumapu was sentenced to one year imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. Execution of sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years subject to certain conditions. He has to pay a $2,000 fine, which will be deducted from his $2,500 bond. He also has to remain drug and alcohol free, and law abiding.

“Mr. Utumapu, it's up to you to decide whether you want to live in jail or live at home.”